The tempromandibular joint, or TMJ is a joint that slides and rotates just in front of your ears , consisting of the temporal bone (side and base of the skull) and the mandible (lower jaw) Chewing muscles connect the lower jaw to the skull, allowing you to move your jaw forward, sideways, open and close. There is a cartilage disc located between the jaw condyle and the mandibular fossa (located on the skull) to make sliding of the jaw easier. Are you still AWAKE???
TMJ disorders, also known as TMD affects more than 10 million Americans, mostly woman. TMD patients usually present to the office with limited opening of the mouth, jaw pain in the morning, headaches, clicking, popping of the jaw or ear aches with no inner ear infection. The symptoms are cyclic and usually occur during times of stress, the symptoms are more prevalent, SO STOP STRESSING!!!
So what causes TMD? Usually trauma to the jaw area, clenching or grinding of teeth during sleep, arthritis of the jaw condyle or displacement of the cartilage disc. Most patients who show up at a dental office with jaw pain, is because they are going through stressful moments in their life and are clenching or grinding their teeth during sleep. This causes tenderness of the muscles encapsulating the jaw pain resulting in jaw pain and headaches. If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your friendly neighborhood dentist.
The majority of TMJ disorders can be treated by resting the joint or relaxing the muscles that move the joint. This does not mean you have to stop chewing!! Talk to your dentist about your symptoms, when and how often they occur. He or she may suggest multiple solutions to relieve your jaw pain. Usually the first course of action is fabricating a night guard, to help relieve muscle tenderness, around the jaw. If this does not help, your dentist may also prescribe a NSAID like Aleve or Motrin, or a muscle relaxant. If the jaw pain still persists, your dentist may refer you to an oral surgeon, or a TMJ specialist. No matter what, be assured there is relief in sight.
D.G. Patel, D.M.D (732) 350-9494